Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pray What?

I awoke to one of my greatest fears Sunday morning... I had pressure and ringing in my right ear, my healthy, non-Meniere's Disease-ear.  I have prayed on-and-off for my right ear over the past couple of years.  I think I've even blogged about my right ear at some point.  I forget the percentage, but I think it's around or slightly less than 50% of people with bi-laterial Meniere's Disease.

At church on Sunday I was like a zombie - couldn't really think straight or process much.  I felt like a million people asked me, "How are you? Are you doing better?" and I lied, "I'm good, so much better."  In the kitchen Sunday afternoon I had a massive meltdown.  I sobbed on Jonathan’s shoulder for a good, solid 15 minutes or more.  He was so strong and reassuring.  He even said, “At least we already know what works and what doesn’t so we’ll be ahead of the game this time.”  It’s incredible that he would say that when the last 2.5 years have been harder on him than on anyone else.

I do know that my preacher talked about FEAR and at one point he said (and this is verbatim):
"[God] often gives us a smaller challenge to prepare us for the big one."  
Are… you… SERIOUS?  
God, what on earth can you possibly want to challenge me with now?  I don't need or want anymore challenges.  I am good, I promise!

Sunday's Jesus Calling message included the following:
"You are really just beginning your journey of intimacy with me...  Do not recoil from afflictions, since they are among my most favored gifts."  
Again, are you SERIOUS?
No, thank you God.  I'm all gifted out right now.  That unfriendly worker at the restaurant last week needs a few of your "gifts" or what about the convicts in jail or all the 95-year-olds who have basically lived their lives?  They need some of your "gifts" right?

I've really been struggling with what and how to pray the last couple of days.  I mean, honestly, if God wants to take me down this road again, who am I to ask him to change his mind?  I know of at least two instances in the bible where it appears a mortal changed God's mind; when God tells Moses on two separate occasions that he’s had it with the Israelites and he’s going to destroy them…

Numbers 14
God: “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them" (v. 11-12)

Moses:  “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people… If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness… In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.” (v. 13-19)

God: “I have forgiven them, as you asked.” (v. 20)

Exodus 32
God:  “I have seen these people, and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” (v. 9-10)

Moses:Lord, should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand… Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people.  (v.11-13)

V 14 - Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

I say it appears Moses changed God’s mind because God is God and in my opinion he certainly knew all along the outcome of the dialogue with Moses.

For about the first year of my Meniere’s Disease journey I prayed earnestly, firmly believing that I would wake up one day completely healed.  There were days when I questioned whether it would happen but most days I truly believed that’s what God had in store.  I don’t necessarily think my hope or faith waned after that first year, but I did settle in to a realization that a longer journey was God’s plan for me.

On Sunday I found myself begging God throughout the day to “please, please, please, please, please, please, P-U-L-E-E-Z-E not let this happen.”  When all along in the back of my mind I realized that if my right ear is next then it’s all part of the plan.  

The only “answer” I’m left with is that the best prayer for me right now is, “God, please prepare me for whatever you have in mind.  Help me to remember that your will is perfect and that you ultimately take care of my family, not me.  I certainly cannot see right now why you would choose this for me, but I trust that you know best.  Please remove the bitterness and anger I am feeling.  Allow me to do better than cope; allow me to accept your sovereignty.”

ARGH!  That is REALLY HARD, but it’s the best thing for me.  Maybe those are the prayers I need to pray more often – for myself, my family, my friends.  Prayers seeking acceptance, peace and joy in the midst of whatever God’s plans entail.  Romans 8:28 reminds us that God works together for the GOOD of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.  If we know he’s working all things for our good and not for our happiness, comfort or personal desires, we must learn to accept the good-ness of his plans for us.

The pressure and ringing were better today, although the ringing has increased as the day has worn on.  I'm certainly HOPEFUL that my right ear stays healthy, but if not... well, if not, see above!

Monday, February 3, 2014


I had an epiphany today!  I've been struggling about writing for several weeks.  I wrote from the valley for so long that I felt that was all I could continue to write about and the only perspective that would be relevant to others.  But I'm not in the valley anymore.  I'm in the foothills!  And today God laid on my heart that I need to write from those foothills.

I chose a word last month that I am using as my 2014 "word of the year."  It's a word that captures what I want to focus on this year.  My 2014 word is PURPOSE.  I want to be focused on God's purpose for my life, my kids' lives, my husband's life, my family's life.  I want to know my purpose, live with purpose and fulfill my purpose.

My BFF, Summer, directed me to a blog written by Sandra Stanley (Andy Stanley's wife) and it really enlightened me.  It can be found here as her Feb 1, 2014, entry, and I'll summarize below:


In her blog, Sandra offers 3 simple questions to ask before saying "yes" to someone or something:
  1. Will a yes to this require a no to something or someone more important to me? 
  2. Is this the season to say yes? 
  3. Do I have the emotional and physical margin to say yes? 
We pack WAY too much into our lives these days. We pack in so much and leave no margins so that all we're left with is worn-out and half-hearted lives. We can even become bitter toward the things that we are voluntarily a part of, just because they leech our time.

I love #3 the best because my emotional and physical stamina have been severely impacted by the last 2.5 years of my life. But I still think I'm "young(ish)" with young kids so I should be able to be all to everyone. But I'm not and I can't! Just because the Supermom that I see at every church, school and sporting event sleeps 2 hours a night, volunteers at the local shelter, bakes fresh goodies for shut-ins, has perfectly coiffed hair and make-up and is always the first to volunteer for something, doesn't mean I have to! I am FINALLY getting to a point where I can relinquish the guilt of not trying to keep up. Her life is not my purpose!!!! And praise God it isn't!  I shouldn't even mention that her children are monsters and will likely be a detriment to society someday. (Yes, I'm way over-embellishing with this fictitious supermom and her kids; I can't help it, it's the "creative writer" coming out in me!)

 Last week my kids missed a birthday party because it fell on a school night and on the night of a basketball game (I actually wasn't feeling well that day either). Attending the party left no room for homework or studying until after 8:00 pm. I tortured myself much of the day because I had RSVP'd that my kids wouldn't be there. When I found out that 15 other kids from school had attended (some on the same basketball team) I felt horrible. But then I remembered that in the big scheme of things the "no" to this activity was still the best thing for my family and me on that day.  

It's SO easy to get caught up in the comparison trap - but that won't happen if we know the individual purpose God has for us and our families!

This morning I drafted a chart and am going to take on the exercise of completing it over the next few days. I would challenge you to do the same. In fact, I challenge you to complete it sometime this month (February 2014), then review and update it every 6 months... simply because seasons and circumstances do change. Essentially the exercise involves taking an inventory of all activities in your life using the following questions:

  1. Does it use my spiritual gifts?
  1. Does it use my talents/skills? (besides spiritual gifts)
  1. Is it for my family? (e.g. basketball practice/games)
  1. Is there a long-term benefit to my family? (e.g. volunteering at my kids' school so I can get to know the kids they are choosing as friends)
  1. Do I enjoy it?
  1. Does it stress me out?
  1. Do I need to drop or change it?
I put mine into an Excel spreadsheet, because I'm OCD and that's just how I roll.  

One final note:  As I mentioned above my word this year is PURPOSE.  I was very deliberate in choosing a word of the year.  I unintentionally chose a word for 2013 also: ABIDE.  I didn't set out with a word in mind, but that was the focus of my year; the year that God held me back from getting over-extended and over-involved in activities; a year focused on learning to abide in Him, in His provision, in His care, in His "enough-ness".  Selecting a word of the year is also an exercise I highly recommend.  One of Dr. Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is "begin with the end in mind."  So when 2014 ends and 2015 rolls around, what do you hope you've accomplished?